Thursday, May 18, 2017

Desperately Seeking Empowerment for the Victims of Fraud

It is the last day of the National Consumer Fraud Week in Australia (15-19.5.2017) and I am researching the concept of #empowerment for my new standalone book Love on the Line 2: How to empower yourself after surviving the trauma of fraud. (The book will be out at the beginning of 2018 through Xlibris). I have been reading the news articles about the new 2016 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report on scamming which states that there has been a 47% increase in reporting fraud in Australia. The combined report from the ACCC and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network also states that Australians lost the whobbling $200 million to Online fraud last year, including romance scams and financial fraud. What news! And what can we say about this report that would be constructive in helping the recovery of the fraud victims, especially for the victims of romance scams.

First of all, the rise of the reporting can show us that people are becoming more aware of the scammers on the social networks. That might be positive but it can also be the same kind of hike as is seen in Scandinavia with rape reporting. It is about the environment in which we live in. In Scandinavia, the definition of rape is much more severe than in other countries, like in Russia, for example, where there is not, any more, any concept of rape in the marriage by law. In Scandinavia, there is also a more open debate on the issue of rape, which allows the victims to feel safe in reporting the crime. However, that is not the case with the scamming victims, especially those who would like to talk about it on social media.

In Australia, it seem that at least the reporting and anonymous victims are more aware and safer in their reporting of fraud. That is not to say that they feel any safer at speaking out about scamming, especially romance scams, as the victim blaming is so rampant on both the social media and amongst the everyday talk about the issue. It is in the analogy with the rape culture where the victims feel ostracised and the scammers feel virtuous. So, who is being empowered, the victims of crime or the fraudsters who, in this world, are so free to commit their discretions?

My understanding about empowerment comes from my feminist background. The whole concept is fairly new because as a young feminist we did not speak about empowerment but about emancipation. In my own language, which is Finnish, I have only heard the translation to the world in the last three years. And in the other language, Swedish, which I also speak, my understanding of the translation has not yet kicked in either. So, how can you be something, you have no real worlds for? But it does have to do with power, right? And whose is the power?

Secondly, the report shows quite clearly, that the power between the fraudsters and the victims and the international crime syndicates and the law, still seems to be on the side of the criminal, despite a lot of new information and a lot of effort from the police. And I am lucky to be a member of the most supporting groups, both Online and in my State of Queensland in Australia.

What we as victims of trauma are so desperately seeking is recovery and after that empowerment.  Because, when one has been a survivor or fraud, especially romance scams, it will never leave him/her and will make the world seem less safe. It sort of takes you out of the cocoon of being right about everything and makes you humble in the face of the enormity and the complexity of the crime and the scamming scene. What we need is more information, more compassion and more awareness.

Luckily, there are methods that will help the person suffering from the trauma. Self-help methods or Online methods, like where you can find a lot of information. And in the wait of my new book, there is also my current book, Love on the Line. How to recover from romance scams gracefully and without victimisation.  And from my website you can also start gathering more information for empowerment.

My mission is not to let the fraudsters win the race to empowerment but learn to shift the power to myself and to the others who have gone through a traumatic experience like mine. It can be anything. Luckily, at the same time as the social media is presenting the fraudsters more opportunities, it is also presenting the survivors opportunities for resistance. It is the matter of acting.
Empowerment means the will to change, to shift and to start the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. So, let’s act on it, shall we!
Just look at this ACCC report to be convinced.